Doncaster Rovers: Wright and Butler absences sparked Paul Downing signing

Paul Downing
Paul Downing

Grant McCann says a delay in Joe Wright’s return to action forced him to reconsider his stance over adding players to his Doncaster Rovers squad.

The Rovers boss had insisted he would not be making any further additions during January after bringing in Kieron Sadlier, Tyler Smith and Aaron Lewis, with youngster Rian McLean coming into the club’s U23 set up.

But McCann considered his options once again this week after discovering centre half Wright would remain on the sidelines for the next month as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury – and he moved to bring in Blackburn Rovers defender Paul Downing on loan for the rest of the season.

With Andy Butler suspended for Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Oldham Athletic and just one booking away from a two match ban in League One, McCann faced the proposition of having Tom Anderson as the only recognised and available senior centre half.

Downing is set to make his debut against Oldham alongside Anderson, with McCann reluctant to field Niall Mason out of position at left-sided centre half.

And McCann is delighted to have competition for places at the back again.

“Probably the area where we've not really had competition this season, but certainly over the last few weeks, is at centre half,” McCann said.

“Paul coming in will maybe push everyone again a little bit.

“We need that and we need everyone champing at the bit. We’ve had it in every other position and now it gives us good options at the back.

“The decision to bring Paul in was made because of Andy Butler’s suspension this weekend and that there’s maybe another two games coming up for him very soon. And there is the fact Joe Wright is three or four weeks away from full match fitness.”

McCann says Downing’s experience of winning promotion from League One last season with Blackburn was a major selling point, plus a past play-off campaign with Walsall.

“Paul is very experienced in this league,” McCann said.

“He played a huge chunk of games for Blackburn last year and was excellent for them.

“I’ve got nothing but thanks for Tony Mowbray and Mark Venus at Blackburn for getting the deal done and the board here for letting me get it done.

“It was hard at first speaking to Tony and Mark because they didn’t want to let him go.

“Paul's always been involved for them this season. If he's not started he's been on the bench.

“He was a big player for Blackburn and we’re delighted he’s come here to play games.”